The Cape is all but dead (and it's my fault!). NBC cut the order from 13 episodes to 10, and given that the 10th episode of the show had just finished filming, that was essentially a cancellation notice. Now, granted, Dollhouse managed to come back from a situation that was superficially similar, but that was only one episode, and when it surfaced, you could understand why Fox declined to pop it onto the air. It also had the Whedon cult to theoretically build on, which The Cape doesn't have.
I mean, The Cape isn't great television. It's highly unlikely that, over time, it would even evolve into good television. But it has a certain appealing brand of crazy, and if nothing else, I'm a bit unhappy that we're not going to get a proper ridiculous finale. Ah well. Onto the show...
GOGGLE and HICKS: We start in Afghanistan. A dude yells “What do you want from me?” Then we cut away. If that had been the entirety of the cold open, that would have been pretty much the most awesome first scene in a random television series ever. Instead, we cut away to a big guy with goggles who's apparently trying to assassinate the yelling guy from afar. Which works, because there's another guy who snipes him.
Peter Fleming shows up to hire our friends, named Goggles and Hicks, to kill The Cape. They're apparently members of the Tarot group, whom you may remember as the international gang of assassins last seen with their French chef poisoner. Surprisingly, there's no flashback to the previous mention of Tarot, which actually would have been a useful flashback for once. At any rate, Goggles, played by Pruitt Taylor Vince (who was the villain in the “Unruhe” episode of The X-Files) has a surprising amount of flair and personality for a The Cape character. Fleming hands him a “The Cape” comic, which Goggles promptly appraises and assumes that Fleming wants the writer and artist dead, which would be a pity—“Have you seen their work in RetroMan?” Upon discovering that someone is running around claiming to be The Cape, he says “Fantasy. Reality. Blur blur blur.” His writing is about 10 times better than the normal dialogue on the show, though that's aided by a more-than-competent guest star.
CAPE’S DAY OFF: Here's that flashback we were looking for! Vince and his wife are flirting and getting toward foreplay in the kitchen. He says he wants “breakfast,” possibly implying that she is the food he would enjoy eating, i.e., cunnilingus. She asks him “How do you want your eggs?” He says “Fertilized,” going on to detail just how wonderful their family would be with another fucking kid. Oh dear lord. Thankfully (!!!), Trip shows up before we have to deal with more of this, demanding pancakes in exchange for memory loss and claiming that he'd prefer a dog to a sibling. “Puppies not brats,” as the t-shirt goes.
In the present day, Vince is all creaky when he goes to visit the circus, thanks to a pair of broken ribs. Max tells him to take the day off, declaring, “This is the real world. The threats are real.” I am always entertained when television shows try to act like they are more real than television shows, and it's extra special fun when The Cape does it, because you never know if it thinks that the dialogue is real. Meanwhile, the other circus folk are trying to open a safe. They say it's a safe, and it also says SAFE in big letters on the front of it. Max walks over and pulls the handle, for maximum comic effect.
Our villains say that they've figured out how to bring The Cape out, and shortly thereafter, Orwell declares that she's arranged a meeting between Scales and The Cape. Gee, I wonder? The Cape briefly wonders, but Orwell says that she's tracked the I.P. address, which is good enough for Vince, and why not?
The meeting between The Cape and Scales isn't going so well. It takes place in an incredibly Gothic cathedral, as if they were suddenly transported to the Holy Roman Empire. They both think the other has information. The Cape quips about Scales' skin, badly. Terribly. Possibly the worst he's ever quipped. Hicks is there, shooting The Cape with a big sniper rifle that is not, I repeat, not using bullets. Why not? Well, Goggles said something earlier about getting to know their targets intimately, which seems okay for tracking them, but if you've already found them...arg. The Cape. “Tag is not penetrating the cape!” Neither is logic. We'll get back to you about Summer Glau.
SATURDAYS: Vince and Orwell are at a diner, as he tries to say why he's taking a day off. She says she'd be doing her nails if she had a day off before she got all Orwell-y. Vince is rambling about his wife, which is good, because his previous obsession with his kid at the expense of his wife was looking a wee bit patriarchal, and not in the cool, subtle, modern way, but in the old, barbaric, women-exist-for-nothing-but-childbearing way. Well, actually, they're kind of the same, and also actually, he does apparently just love her for her child-bearing hips (wherever they may be hiding).
Speaking of the old lady, she's having trouble with Trip, quelle surprise. He needs to eat before baseball, but he's “Sick of baseball! I quit!” Vince, meanwhile, decides that a good way to spend his day off is hanging out his old neighborhood, staring at his old house (which looks oddly short and suburban for a kid's window with a fire escape) with no more disguise than a hoodie. The surprising thing isn't that he's this fucking dumb, it's that it's taken until Goggles for anyone to notice and, well, I'd say “two and two together” but that's too complicated. This is putting one and one together. Having ascertained that The Cape is Vince Faraday, they figure they've got enough for the killin'. Which leads to the best line of the night, as Goggles says “It's time, Hicks. What are you thinking?” “Bumblebee!” Goggles giggles.
Orwell is talking some hacking nonsense, saying that trying to trace the for reals I.P. this time threatened to “send her into a wormhole.” Um, different Summer Glau show there, guys. And a much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much better one.*
*Okay, not really. I mean, Firefly is definitely much much better, but it didn't have wormholes. That's part of the reason it was so good; it had some vague nods towards hard science fiction, like no FTL travel.
The “bumblebee” turns out to be a radio airplane thingy with a terrible CGI gun hidden inside. That would have been WAY cooler if it hadn't been CGI. It makes a taco stand or something explode, and it hits The Cape in the cape, which is not a euphemism. Apparently the damn thing is bulletproof.
The bumblebee chases Vince into an alley, where Goggles and Hicks, controlling it from a van, start to gloat. Vince whips out his cape, pulls the bumblebee, and smashes it into the wall. Which, I must say, is exactly what you do in those situations with your cape or grav gun or whatever's handy. Well done Vince.
DARKNESS FALLS: Trip is being weird. Mom comes in to discover him setting up a camera to catch The Cape next time he shows up. “Make real friends, you psycho brat!” she tells him as she leaves him alone in order to go see The Cape's evil former partner at a party for his promotion to chief of police. A weird, dorky kid pops through the window and starts saying weird stuff to Trip, who replies with such comic gems as “Dude, that's just wrong!” when he says Trip's mom is hot, and “I'll pass.” It's like Trip's dialogue comes straight from the witty best friend in a shitty sitcom. Whatever dialogue improvements came from Goggles this episode were negated by Trip's terrible, terrible writing. Still, the nerdy kid friend is kind of fun.
Speaking of Goggles and good lines, his incredulous statement “I dare say it’s impossible. But. They found us!” when Orwell uses the bumblebee and her “hacking” jargon to trace the villains, is a fine example. Meanwhile, Dana is winning friends and influencing people by confronting the evil friend about his evilness at his party. He basically says “I’m the chief of police. I know nothing!” until she gets kicked out of the party. Then Goggles triggers a full blackout.
The QUIET ONES: The non-Goggles dialogue is getting worse. The Cape and Orwell flee into a local abandoned opera house. They figure out that there's some kind of assassination attempt going on, saying “All day long I’ve had the feeling I was being watched.” Literally.
Then it gets hot. Orwell says that maybe he's being tracked. Vince says that he checked the cape, but nothing. The lights are off; only a lighter provides a soft glow. Vince takes off his shirt. Summer Glau runs her hands all over him. They talk about his day off. Vince talks about his son fielding in the baseball game. It’s hot. Trip's a really good fielder. He asks Orwell about her parents, to keep the mood going. Then he calls her a liar about her parents, so Summer fucks him up by poking his ribs and possibly macing him.
Trip and his new friend eat ice cream together. The new kid asks Trip about his dad, and Trip says “Don't listen to the lamestream media, dude, listen to Glenn Beck. Everything else is LIES.” “I lost my dad too,” says the new kid. The psychopathic Trip cannot contain his excitement “Really!” Meanwhile, Summer’s rubbing Vince on the back. “I’m pretty much numb all over,” he says, basically inviting her to make the first move, maybe saying “Maybe I can help you feel something again...?” Instead, Hicks busts in with an Uzi.
DIVIDE and CONQUER: Hicks apparently uses all his ammo and tosses the Uzi to the ground, as it is apparently now useless! He pulls a knife, and we see him exploring the theater through his night-vision goggles, which Goggles is also using to see what's going on. They CLEARLY show The Cape disarming him then kicking his ass, as Goggles screams “Hicks, what's happening?” Maybe he should make his resolution higher?
Orwell and The Cape bust into Goggles' van, as Hicks gives chase. She yells, literally, “Fasten your seatbelts, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!” Gah. Meanwhile, Dana comes home to discover the kids have torn through the ice cream. Trip says “We didn't want it to go to waste,” which is possibly the only smart thing he's ever said. “Mistakes were made,” says the new kid, hammering home the sitcom-style witticisms.
Orwell and The Capeypoo knock Hicks off the van and drive away with Goggles, figuring he's the brains of the operation. This is amusingly made clear when Hicks manages to put genuine pathos into his complaint to Fleming that “He took Goggles! I need him back!” Fleming isn't interested, even when Hicks offers him a flashdrive that shows The Cape's identity. Convenient! Then Hicks shows up at the diner with Orwell and Vince. There's some ominous whispering, and Vince basically says, “I have a code of honor, which prevents me from doing anything nice for you, so please, go ahead and take my family hostage.” Orwell's not a fucking moron, so she helps Hicks by telling him where Goggles is—prison already, apparently. Must have been a fast trial. “I see who wears the cape in this relationship!” Perfect.
Then Vince walks into the circus, apparently just so Max can ask how his day off was, and Vince can say “I've had better” and walk away. But at least there are circus folks doing cool stuff!
Please bring these villains back, The Cape.